Welcome to Charity Navigator's Blog!

The team from Charity Navigator, the nation's largest independent charity evaluator and leading donor advocate, shares their thoughts on emerging nonprofit-sector issues and offers tips to better inform your intelligent giving decisions.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Tick Tock

You Have Just A Few Hours Left
 To Make Your Donations

This is just a friendly reminder that today is the last day to make your charitable donations if you want to deduct them from your 2013 taxes.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Most Interesting Moments in Philanthropy in 2014

Here are a few philanthropic moments that really stood out to us this year:

What in philanthropy in 2014 was a stand out moment for you?

Monday, December 29, 2014

A New Year's Eve Celebration First

This year's New Year’s Eve party in New York will be featuring a charity for the first time.  The International Rescue Committee has been designated a partner for the celebration and representatives of the organization will assist with the start of the famous Times Square ball drop.  The organizers of the event thought it was an appropriate time to showcase an organization like this as many refugees have been displaced this year due to wars and conflicts abroad.  It is expected to be an opportunity for some great exposure for an organization that was founded in 1933.  

Friday, December 26, 2014

Uncle Sam Rewards Your Charitable Endeavors

Your gifts to charity are an expression of your generosity and commitment to solving the problems that threaten our society. Even if your intentions are 100% altruistic, Uncle Sam still rewards your charitable endeavors by making these
gifts tax-deductible. But remember you must make your donation by December 31 to claim the tax deduction on your 2014 taxes. 

Go To Holiday Giving Guide

Go To Tax Benefits of Giving

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

This Year...

Join the thousands donors who have already given to Charity Navigator in 2014 and Donate Now to ensure our accomplishments are just as plentiful in the new year.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Our Holiday Gift to Donors Everywhere

Given the altruistic spirit of the year-end holidays, we know that many Americans are making important decisions about which charities to support right now. In fact, many charities report that they get as much as 1/2 of their annual gifts from individuals between Thanksgiving and New Years. All this giving makes it critical that donors have access to the most current data available. That's why, our team, which is fully dedicated to helping you, America's generous donors, make informed giving decisions, has been so busy these last few weeks. The result of all that effort is our holiday gift to you - the release of hundreds of updated ratings today

We wish you nothing but the best in all of your charitable endeavors this holiday season.

Happy Holidays from Charity Navigator!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

IRA Charitable Rollover Is Back!

Just this week, the Senate signed off on legislation that reinstates retroactively many expired tax provisions. One of those provisions is the IRA charitable rollover. 

If you aren't familiar with the IRA Charitable Rollover, it allows individuals 70 1/2 or older to distribute up to $100,000 from an IRA to a qualifying charity.  While taxpayers can't claim a charitable deduction for such gifts, they don't have to count the gift as taxable income.

Sadly, this tax provision will expire again on January 1.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Stumped for a gift idea?

Stop stressing over what to get everyone on that long list and spread some joy by donating to a highly-rated charity in honor of someone you love. Go to our site now and pick out a charity to support that will make you and the person you are giving in honor of, feel good this holiday season.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Warning To Scammers, This App Will Ensure Charitable Donations Go To Their Intended Good Causes

Don't let scammers get their hands on your charitable donations. Use our free app to check out charities before you give!

Download Charity Navigator's Android or Apple app now.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Informed Giving Made Easy

Vetting charities is our full-time job.  We do this because we know most donors are simply too busy with their work, family and other responsibilities to take on the daunting task of digging through and analyzing nonprofit data. So, our staff works hard, year-round to ensure you have access to the most current data available on thousands of charities. And that’s why we’ve posted five easy to follow steps to ensure you can quickly and easily donate to worthy charities that match your philanthropic passion.  

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Friday, December 5, 2014

Money Can Buy Happiness!

Check out this quote from Bloomberg View's Barry Ritholz:

"Money can buy you happiness -- all you need to figure out is how to give it away intelligently."

We couldn't agree more! And Charity Navigator is here to help you be smart about how you donate your hard-earned money. Our site is full of tips and thousands of charity ratings

So, what are you waiting for? Go give your money to a worthy charity now! 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

December Charity Ratings Update

In the spring of 2002, we launched with data-driven ratings of 1,115 of America's largest charities. At the time, no one had ever attempted to evaluate, in any fashion, more than 500 organizations. This month, Charity Navigator is proud to announce that we now rate more than 8,000 charities!

See if your favorite charity was 
updated this month or rated for the first time

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Making the Holidays Merry for Families in Need

Photo Credit: Official Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Caleb Gomez
Every year, we hear from donors who want to know which charities are dedicated to making the holiday season merry and bright for families in need. There are many charities that provide clothing, meals, toys and other goods to disadvantaged families so that they might experience the joy of the year-end giving season.  

Below is a list of just some of the 3 and 4-star charities that offer such programs, along with a brief explanation of the services they offer.* Click on the charity's name to access its contact information and review its Charity Navigator rating.

Marine Toys For Tots Foundation
Collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year, and distributes those toys as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in the community in which the campaign is conducted.

The Empty Stocking Fund
Purchases brand new items in sufficient quantities to offer a variety of age- and gender-appropriate choices. In December, the charity invites parents and guardians of children that are qualified to receive certain benefits through the Division of Family and Children Services to visit Santa's Village and select gifts for their children.

Family Giving Tree
Fulfills holiday wishes and provides backpacks filled with school supplies to children in need.

Samaritan's Purse
Via Operation Christmas Child Project, the charity sends gifts to those in need overseas.

Holiday Express
Provides gifts to the needy during the holidays and throughout the year.

*This isn't an all-inclusive list of charities offering such services. 

The Naughty and Nice List

Check out Charity Navigator's 2014 Naughty and Nice charity list before you make your holiday donations.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Trending Topics in Charitable Giving

Support Our Troops
If you are passionate about helping veterans, injured military personnel and their families, then consult our list of military-related charities before you write a check.

 Black Friday. Cyber Monday. #GivingTuesday!
 #GivingTuesday is a simple idea. All you need to do is find a way for your family, your community, your company or your organization to join in acts of giving. Then tell everyone you can about what you are doing and why it matters.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Follow These Five Tips to Maximize the Impact of Your Holiday Donations

Thanksgiving to New Year's is the biggest time of year for charitable giving. If you are among the millions of Americans who plan to give this holiday season, then be sure to follow our 5 steps to ensure you make the most of your year-end giving.

Top 5 Tips For Maximizing Year-End Donations

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Make Your Donation Go Further

Did you know you have the power to double or even triple your donation to Charity Navigator? We are partnering with Double the Donation to make it possible for you to garner matching gifts from your employer.  But, we cant do it without you.  

Here's how to make your donation go further.
  1. Make a donation to Charity Navigator.
  2. Once you donation is complete, you will be prompted to provide your employer's name which will give you instant access to information about it's matching gifts program. 
  3. You can also go directly to our donation page  and enter your employer's name in the Double the Donation form or use the tool below to see if your company matches gifts.  If you find your employer's name there, you will find information on how to apply for the matching gift. 
A matching gift can be applied to almost any gift made with the current calendar year so inquire today!  

To learn more about the magic of matching gifts, click here or contact our staff with any questions or for help in applying for the matching gift.  

Thanks for your support!

Matching Gift and Volunteer Grant information provided by
Powered by Double the Donation

Monday, November 17, 2014

On the run this holiday season? No problem. We've got you covered.

For many of us, the holiday season is the busiest time of the year. From decorating, to shopping, to visiting friends and family, our “to-do” lists runneth over. It is also the time of year we feel most altruistic and motivated to give back. So how are you supposed to find the time to find a worthy cause to support?

Get it on Google PlayNever fear, Charity Navigator is here with a new, updated app designed to take the hassle out of holiday donating. 
Make the most of your time while on the road to grandma’s house or while waiting on line at the store and use our app to quickly identify highly-rated charities that match your philanthropic interest. Now you really have no excuse not to do your research to ensure the charities you support this year-end are on the ‘nice’ and not the ‘naughty’ list


Friday, November 14, 2014

How to go About Providing Holiday Meals to the Less Fortunate

Of all the festivities associated with the winter holidays, the one thing many people look forward to most is the big holiday meal. Whether it’s turkey on Thanksgiving, a Christmas ham, or a pot roast at a Hanukah dinner, food is indelibly intertwined with our holiday celebrations.

Before you donate to a charity promising to provide holiday meals, check out our three tips to ensure that most of your donation is covering the cost of a  meal programs and not the expensive advertisements used to promote these programs.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Would You Donate if Only 16 Cents of Every Dollar Went to Veterans?

Check out this report by KXAN-TV which investigates how much money one for-profit telemarketer keeps and how little the donations it collects end up helping veterans. This is exactly why you should HANG UP THE PHONE when you get these calls! Instead, be proactive in finding great charities supporting the military, veterans and their families and give directly

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Donating Appreciated Assets

Year-end giving will be in full swing in just a few weeks. And a recent article in The Des Moines Register did a good job explaining the benefits of donating appreciated assets. The article sums it up with the following example:

Let's say Scott is in the 25 percent federal tax bracket and has $5,000 in appreciated stock he wants to donate. If he sells the stock and donates the proceeds from the sale, he will only end up donating $4,250. The other $750 is used to pay long-term capital-gains taxes at the 15 percent rate. Plus, even though Scott sold $5,000 worth of stock, he can only deduct $4,250.

Instead, if Scott donates the shares directly to the charity, there are no capital-gains taxes, and he can deduct the full $5,000. Even better, the charity will not have to pay any capital-gains taxes when it sells the donated stock.
Visit our site for more information about the Tax Benefits of Giving

Car Donation Charity Spends More on its Operations Than Veterans

Fox 4 in Kansas City recently ran this segment about a 'charity,' called Carshelpingvets.org, that spends the vast majority of what it takes in on running its operations... not on veterans in need. Sadly, just as the leader of this organization points out in the segment, it isn't unusual for a car donation charity to be woefully inefficient. So, before you donate your car, check out our tips to ensure your gift enriches a charity and not the middleman.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Scary Truths About Giving That Every Donor Should Know

  • Some charities are so inefficient that they fail to even apply one third of their budget toward their mission (when we find such groups, they automatically are assigned a 0-star rating).
  • When donors give small donations to many charities they end up on many mailing lists.  That is because it may be more advantageous for a charity to sell your name to other organizations then cultivate more donations form you over time. 
  • Some charities are not even transparent enough to display the names of their key staff and Board of Directors on their website.
  • Those annoying telemarketers calling you at dinnertime often keep the majority of what you donate (sometimes 85 to 95 cents of every dollar they raise). That’s millions of dollars each year that go towards enriching for-profit telemarketers rather than supporting charitable programs. Even scarier, there are cases in which no money is distributed to the charity. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

School Fundraisers: Are They An Efficient Way To Support Our Schools?

The short answer, as WSOC TV investigates in the following video, is "No!" That's because often these fundraisers are run by outside, for-profit firms that keep a large percentage of what they raise. Even more troubling, is that many parents are reporting that it is nearly impossible to find out just what that percentage is. 

So, parents out there, what do you do when these appeals come home, often promising the kids big prizes if they sell, sell, sell? 

I can tell you that in my house, my kids have learned not to even bring those packages home. They know that I don't support the messaging that comes with the prize packs- that fundraising isn't about giving, but rather about what you can get out of it. And they've learned that we're not going to pester our neighbors and loved ones into buying chocolate that their waistlines don't need or into buying wrapping paper that's ten time the cost of that found at the dollar store. Instead, we cut out the middleman and make a direct contribution to the PTA / sports team and get on with our day.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Got a Question for us?

We get a lot of questions about donating. For example, one we often hear, "the CEO's salary of my favorite charity seems high, should I make a contribution?" 

Check out our FAQs for the answer to this question and others.

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Year-End Giving Season Is Approaching - Find Out How To Make Informed Giving Choices

TV station WFMY recently ran a story  providing a nice overview of how Charity Navigator can help you make informed year-end (and really all year long) donations. Good timing on their part as we know that charities receive as much as 1/2 of their annual gifts between Thanksgiving and New Years. 

However, I'd like to clarify one thing in their segment. That is, if we don't yet rate a nonprofit that's of interest to you, then you can still find basic information about it (see the unrated organization tab in the search results) on our site. We also include a set of tips to help you conduct your own review.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Video Grants Available for Innovative Charities

Charity Navigator is collaborating with Two Parrot Productions (a video production company that specializes in creating compelling mini-documentaries for non-profit organizations) to help them select THREE charities to receive 100% pro-bono video production grants for 2015.  

Watch this short video to learn more. And if you think your charity exhibits innovation, creativity, and future-thinking, then visit Two Parrot Productions' website to apply for a video grant 


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Moving Toward An Overhead SOLUTION

Today, with Guidestar and the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator published a letter inviting the nonprofits of America to do their part to focus donors’ attention on what really matters: a charity's efforts to make the world a better place (which we are beginning to track via our Results Reporting methodology).

Read the full letter that asks nonprofits and the social sector at large to join us as we move toward an Overhead Solution.

Video: Evaluating Charity CEO Compensation

For those of you who are looking for some assistance in evaluating CEO compensation, we've recently published our 2014 CEO Compensation Study. It shows the median compensation and raise for the leaders of mid to large sized charities and includes details on how pay varies by location, charitable mission and organizational size. The end of the report, like this video, offers tips for evaluating your favorite charity’s compensation practices.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Help Us Scale Up

Although Charity Navigator is a small charity, we have technology-related expenses similar to that of a large, commercial website. While we may not need the thousands of programmers that Google and Facebook employ, we do need more than the two programmers we currently have on staff. 

So, if Charity Navigator is useful to you, then we kindly ask you to make a tax-deductible donation so that we can invest in the necessary technology resources to continue to improve our service to you. 

Donate Now

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Charities Working to Prevent and Cure Breast Cancer

There are 1,000s of charities competing for donations to continue their efforts to promote awareness and to cure breast cancer. How is a donor supposed to distinguish between them all?

Check out our list of breast cancer related charities - from those rated 4-stars to those on our Donor Advisory list.

Monday, October 13, 2014

2014 Charity CEO Compensation Study

Just how much does the typical mid to large-sized charity's CEO earn? Did he/she see an increase in pay from 2011 to 2012? How does CEO pay vary by location, mission and budget?

Our latest CEO Compensation Study answers these questions and offers some tips for evaluating your favorite charity's compensation practices. 

Read the Study Now

Friday, October 10, 2014

Fun Photos of 4-Star Charities

I always get a kick out of the creative photos posted by some of our 4-star charities as they celebrate their achievement.

See more 4-star celebratory photos here.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

New Hot Topic: Charities Responding to the Ebola Outbreak

The worst known outbreak of Ebola is happening right now in West Africa. 

Our CEO to Speak at NYU

The NYUReynolds Program in Social Entrepreneurship presents The Battle for the Soul of theSocial Sector, a conversation with Charity Navigator President & CEO Ken Berger.

Topic: Although the social sector continues to play a central role in tackling many societal problems, there is an unseen battle being waged for its soul. Mr. Berger argues that some of its leaders have not been introspective and proactive regarding the sector’s numerous internal problems, which threatens the sector's relevance and identity. The discussion will cover the contours of the battle and the efforts Charity Navigator is making to help win it.

RSVP is required (http://bit.ly/bergerrsvp) for this free event if you plan to attend in person. And if you can't make it, then you can still watch the presentation live online.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

9/11 Charities

Remembering 9/11- the terrible loss, the charitable response and the patriotic feelings. 
For more on the 9/11 related charities, see our site.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Removing Charities from 'My Charities'

After you've taken the time to find charities that are of interest to you, then you may want to 'save' them so that you can quickly view them the next time you visit Charity Navigator. It is easy to do this as a registered user of the site (this service is 100% free). In fact, you can save both rated and unrated organizations to your favorites. 

As easy as it is to add a charity, it is to remove one from your favorites - for example if its rating declines or you are no longer interested in funding that type of charity. If you want to trim down the list of charities that you track, then follow these steps:

  1. Log into the site and click on ‘My Charities.’
  2. Find the charity you want to remove from your list. 
  3. Click the box next to the charity’s name. 
  4. Select the action ‘remove from my charities’ and hit the ‘do action’ button. 
That’s it. The charity is now removed from your list.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Tonight's Fundraising Telecast

Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C), a program of the 4-star rated Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF), will air tonight at 8 pm ET on ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and many more stations. The program promises performances from recording artists and celebrities from film and television as well as "powerful stories of remarkable progress being made by SU2C-funded research." 

The show may inspire you to donate to EIF or another one of the many cancer related charities. But whichever charity you choose, be sure to do your homework first to:
  • Ensure the charity is doing the type of work you want to support. Remember, just because a charity has 'cancer' in its name, doesn't mean it is funding cancer research or even funding the type of cancer research that you are most concerned about. There are cancer related charities that are focused on advocacy, awareness and patient services as well as those devoted to research. Be sure to review charity's website or give the organization a direct call so that you are clear about the work it does before you write that check.
  • Ensure the charity is financially strong, ethical and effective. Before you give to any charity, not just a cancer related charity, be sure to check that the charity meets these three criteria.
    1. Fiscal Health: Financially healthy organizations – those that are both financially efficient and sustainable - have greater flexibility and freedom to pursue their charitable mission.  Charity Navigator’s 0 to 4- star rating system  includes a review of each charity’s fiscal performance. And if we don't rate the charity that is of interest to you, then you'll still be able to find basic information about it on our site as well as tips on how you can conduct your own financial analysis.
    2. Accountable & Transparent: Generally speaking, charities that are accountable follow good governance practices and are therefore less likely to engage in unethical or irresponsible activities so, the risk that charities would misuse donations is lower than for charities that don't adopt such practices.  In addition, an organization that is transparent will share its performance openly with the public. Therefore all stakeholders can investigate the details of the charity's work without having to struggle for access to the information. If a charity is doing good work, then it should have nothing to hide. As the saying goes, "sunlight is the best disinfectant!" An analysis of each charity's Accountability & Transparency is included in Charity Navigator's 0 to 4-star rating system.
    3. Results: Knowing what the charity has accomplished is a critical step; after all, the charity’s ability to bring about long lasting and meaningful change in the world is the key reason for their existence and what you want your donation to be used for.  Charity Navigator has begun to provide a review of each charity’s results reporting, but this data will not impact any charity's rating until we have the data for all of the charities we rate.  In the meantime, you can learn about a charity’s results by reviewing its website and/or talking with staff.  They should be able to tell you more than just the number of activities or people served and speak to the quality and depth of their results as well as their capacity to continue to get these results.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Labor Day 2014

Enjoy the last long weekend of the summer.
~The Charity Navigator Staff 

Friday, August 29, 2014

4-Star Charities Celebrating Their Success

4-star Interfaith Community Services of Pima County
4-star charities don't just shout their good news from the rooftops, they are increasingly sharing it via social media. Check out some of the fun 4-star inspired photos we've seen recently on twitter, facebook and other social media platforms. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Have You Taken the #ALSIceBucketChallenge?

Unless you don’t use social media or you’ve taken a vacation from social media this summer, then you’ve probably seen a photo or video of a friend or celebrity being doused in icy cold water in the name of charity. What is this all about? Well, the premise is simple. If someone nominates you, then you have 24 hours to dump a bucket of ice water over your head or you must make a donation to an ALS related charity (of which Charity Navigator rates many).
Photo Credig: slgckgc

Not everyone is just having fun with this social media phenomenon. It appears some are actually donating to ALS charities. In fact, the ALS Association and its chapters say they have received $4 million in donations compared with just $1.2 million during the same period last year. And it says that it has picked up >70,000 new donors. That's music to the ears of people living with this insidious disease that has no cure!

While there is no disputing that this campaign has raised awareness and funding, there are some concerns about it.

  • In TIME, Jacob Davidson, whose father died from ALS, takes issue with the way the campaign is crafted. He says the campaign asks, “’Want to help fight this disease? No? Well, then you better dump some cold water on your head.’ The challenge even seems to be suggesting that being cold, wet, and uncomfortable is preferable to fighting ALS.” So he suggests that instead “maybe people could dump ice water on friends who haven’t donated as goofy way of encouraging others to give, or dump water on themselves before promising to donate.”
  • Project ALS told the Washington Post that the average donation per person is lower than it typically receives and wonders how many donors will maintain interest (and support) in the charity once the fad fades.
  • Slate’s Will Oremus wonders how much awareness this campaign has actually raised. He says “as for ‘raising awareness,’ few of the videos I’ve seen contain any substantive information about the disease, why the money is needed, or how it will be used.” He goes on to encourage people to (1) skip the whole challenge (2) support a charity of their choosing and then (3) suggest your friends and family do the same. At Charity Navigator we would clarify that by encouraging people to support a charity of their choosing that they’ve taken the time to research to ensure it is worth their donation.
  • Our very own Ken Berger pointed out on Airtalk Radio that he’s concerned that this is just a “flash in the ice bucket” and “that [the campaign]  doesn’t have long lasting memory [and that] it doesn’t really educate most people to the issue.” He said the biggest concern he has with these types of viral, flashy campaigns is that donors are giving based on an emotion and on an impulse. He notes that many aren’t taking the time to determine if “this charity is truly effective” and if “it meets its mission in a measurable way.”
As Mr. Berger notes, our main concern at Charity Navigator with such gimmicky fundraising appeals is that they perpetuate the lack of discussion around what should be the core issue – the charity’s impact and thus true worthiness of support. Thankfully, at least some of the donors are listening to Ken Berger and are taking the time to do their homework as evident by the 16,000 pageviews the ALS Association’s page on our site (the main charity behind this challenge) has received in the first 17 days of the month. That’s a >8,500% increase in pageviews compared to the same period of time last year.  And the good news for those checking our site, is that the charity does have our highest 4-star rating! 

But that doesn’t negate our concern about the next fundraising fad. Will it be a high-performing charity or a bad apple? Unless donors take the time to do their research, we will continue to run the risk that a ‘cool campaign’ will divert funding from those charities that are really making a difference in the world to one that simply is good at promotion.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Charitable Spirit of Robin Williams

Credit: Loren Javier

Yesterday, we learned that Robin Williams had tragically died at the age of 63. The news coverage since then has focused on what Williams was best known for - that of being an entertainer. But he was also a generous person who supported many charities during his life. Those include:

So as we mourn the loss of such a great performer, consider making a donation to one of his favorite charities as a way to celebrate his life and remember the many times he made us laugh.

8/15/14 Update: As Money Magazine points out, another "way to pay tribute to Robin Williams is to contribute to... top-rated charities that help people who struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts." Those orgs include:

And now that we've learned Robin Williams was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, you may want to support a charity that is working to find treatment and a cure for this disease. Of course, the most well-known of these is the 4-star rated Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research